A regular and open dialogue around mental health and emotional wellbeing between the public and health teams must continue to be built upon, following a successful community engagement event.
That is the view of Simon Whitehouse, Chief Executive Designate of the Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin Integrated Care System (ICS), following on from him speaking at last week’s Healthier Minds Festival, which took place at Telford Cultural and Leisure Centre in Hadley.
Hundreds of people attended the special event, which aimed to provide an opportunity for people from a range of diverse backgrounds living in Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin to find out how they can access mental health services in the county.
Stallholders from a variety of organisations, NHS teams and community leaders were on-hand during the day to discuss with community members what is working well and also find out reasons why they might not be coming forward and making contact with services.
Speaking after the event, Simon said: “When I arrived at the event, the energy and enthusiasm in the room was palpable.
“The feeling truly was that we can do more by working with our communities to engage with local people and to understand how we can better meet their needs by reaching out and listening to them, rather than telling them how we do things and how they should access our services. Understanding the possible barriers which make accessing services more challenging for people is key.
“The Healthier Minds Festival has to be the start of an ongoing and open dialogue between community members and health and care teams around mental health and emotional wellbeing. These conversations need to continue – and that’s a particularly important message to share with this week being Mental Health Awareness Week.
“I’d also like to take this opportunity to thank every single person who came along and engaged with us, as well as thank those who worked tirelessly to make this event the wonderful success that it was. What a brilliant day for us at Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin ICS and for our local partners.”
At the event, Simon also signed up to Telford & Wrekin Council’s Year of Wellbeing on behalf of the ICS.
Councillor Kelly Middleton, Cabinet Member for Leisure, Public Health and Wellbeing, Equalities and Partnerships, added: “It was wonderful to see so many different people in one room passionate about the health and wellbeing of people in Telford and Wrekin.
“By working with people in our communities we can improve services and support to keep people happy and healthy.
“The pandemic has taken its toll on everybody’s wellbeing, so it was great to see people at the event thinking about their own wellbeing and the quick and simple, everyday things we can do to improve how we feel.
“It’s also important to get organisations involved in the campaign, and so I am pleased that the Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin Integrated Care System have made their wellbeing pledge for the campaign.”
A number of vibrant demonstrations also took place on the day, including a fan dance demonstration from members of the Chinese Cultural Centre, poetry from Alan Bennett from One Voice and local artist Xolo Spkq, tai chi, yoga, pilates and much more.
Photo caption: From left, Councillor Raj Mehta, Councillor Andy Burford, Councillor Kelly Middleton, Parkhas Singh Dhami, Sherrel Fikeis, Councillor Amrik Jhawar and Simon Whitehouse.